FORMER captain Scot Bennett admits the Newport County AFC players have to take the criticism on the chin after a below-par performance at Morecambe.

Manager Michael Flynn labelled the display as “gutless” and “spineless” as his side went down to a 2-1 defeat at the Globe Arena on Saturday.

And Bennett, who stabbed in an equalizer for the Exiles in-between two Kevin Ellison goals for the hosts, says the players are well aware that they let their standards slip on the Lancashire coast.

“We didn’t turn up and I don’t think we deserved three points,” said the 26-year-old.

“We battled but it wasn’t enough and we need to look at that this week and move on.

“It’s not a performance that we want to keep putting in.

“We want to make sure we’re at it like we have been at the start of the season and that we keep picking up points.”

Asked about the strong words from the manager, Bennett said: “We know ourselves that it wasn’t good enough but the gaffer has told us and we need to look at what went wrong and work on it.

“Since he came in at the back end of last season we’ve put in some really good performances and we’ve strengthened the squad and started the season well.

“We’ve put in some brilliant performances so far this season but that just wasn’t good enough on a lot of levels.

“There were too many of us that didn’t turn up,” he added.

“If nine or 10 turn up then you generally win the game but when five or six aren’t quite at it then you’re not going to win the game, especially against a team that’s set up as well as Morecambe.”

County are ninth in the League Two table with 12 points from their first eight games and Bennett says there are still plenty of reasons for optimism ahead of the visit of Grimsby Town to Rodney Parade this coming Saturday.

“I don’t think we should be too hard on ourselves,” he said.

“It’s early on in the season and we’ve put in some good performances.

“Hopefully it’s just a blip and we put in another good one on Saturday and get three points.

“We’re in a good position and we want to keep building on that. We don’t want to go backwards.

“We need to just pick it up and go again.”

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On a personal note, Bennett hopes to add more goals to his game and retain his starting spot.

“It was my first league goal for the club,” he said. “I’ve been a bit disappointed in the last couple of years with my goals.

“At Exeter I had a good goal record and it’s dried up a little bit so hopefully that’s the start of some more.

“I wasn’t happy with how I started at Stevenage and then I picked an injury at Southend and it’s hard to break back into the team when the boys are doing well.

“Now I’m back in I’ll look to try to stay in but it’s up to the gaffer.”